Some thoughts on Jordan Rakei's recent stunning live set in Perth
A special night of incredible music from the headliner and his very able supports.
Words by Brooke Murphy. All photos by Aaron Webber.
Maybe it’s because his voice is as smooth as a dolphin’s underbelly, maybe it’s because I read an article last year where he named his top three musical influences as D’Angelo, Radiohead and Fat Freddy’s Drop, or maybe it is because the harmonies and tempos in his songs can entice a rolling sense of relaxation while simultaneously encouraging the listener to move their body. Whatever you chalk it up to, there is no denying that there is something quite refreshing about Jordan Rakei.
On March 26, he graced Perth with his presence, performing at Jack Rabbit Slim's with an amazingly curated line up of supports.
Grievous Bodily Calm were kicking off their first song by the time I walked in. The sound hit me in the face like a big beach ball I was welcoming with open arms. The drums were off to the left of the stage, the keys to the right and the wall of sound they created ebbed and flowed in fervent waves. Pierced, but not punctured, by the rolling sounds of Matthew on the trumpet, the vibe was gaining momentum. By the end of their set, the guys seemed to be enjoying themselves just as much as the crowd were as we all bounced along to this hybrid-jazz-funk that seems to be (finally) infiltrating the Australian scene.
Pow! Negro were up next. Awarded the 2016 WAM Award for” Most Popular Live Act’ as voted by the public, their performance never disappoints. Frontman Nelson brings a theatrical element to their set, his facial expressions and lucid dance moves are their point of difference; luring the patron into their narrative that is far from being based on fiction. Watching them perform padded out songs that grew from short verses heard in sets they played early least year is a pleasure and personally I can’t wait for their EP in October. The dynamics between band members are a joy to watch (see: Rhys on the drums) and the ambience is contagious as more people flooded to the dance floor while they finished their set with some old crowd favourites.
Ruby Ruby Ruby. It is hard to believe such a huge voice comes from such a petite lady but ya know what, it does and it’s amazing. I always feel myself getting wrapped up in emotions when I hear Ruby sing because she is just that good. Her sunshine soul radiates through her voice and when she performs with the Chakra Khans it’s feels like a huge yet intimate family reunion everyone is over the moon to be invited to.
All these soulful sets were sandwiched with beats from Nicole Filev - her name is associated with a good time in the local scene as she brings those disco and funk bangers most of us can’t remember the name to but LOVE so it’s like kind of bittersweet but of course you dance your little heart out to the track while you can.
Born over the ditch in New Zealand and currently based in London, Rakei finally hits the stage and cascades straight into his set. Seeing him perform with a full band, their dynamics and ability to merge perfectly produced production with creative improvisation is immaculate. Their enjoyment obvious. Rakei is not only an amazing singer but a multi-instrumentalist and his talent for creating perfect compositions is evident when he is performing on stage. Every inch of his body sways in time as all the impeccably placed sounds take the audience through a range of genres, all without missing a beat. Blame It On The Youth was a highlight slow jam, crammed into a funky set that didn’t bring the tempo down at all.
Music consumers are looking for more. They’re looking for that human connection in their selection, the emotions, the soul and the improvisation of the essence of living through sound. We are seeing less of a lean towards the segregation of genres and more ‘fusion’ compositions. Hip Hop artists rapping over jazz-noise, the funk of R&B mashed with catchy punk riffs, nothing is off limits – think Tom Misch, Questlove and Hiatus Kaiotye.
There is no denying that we are smack bang in the middle of an ‘intelligent music’ surge. In a time period where we are bombarded by different sources, an array of noise, a choice of representation of our identity – we want more than catchy beats and lyrics that get stuck in our heads, we want to feel, to be rattled in both positive and negative ways and Jordan does this so well – and I’m not the only one to notice judging by his sold out European shows.